Justifying the jury: Reconciling justice, equality, and democracy

Melissa Schwartzberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The jury is a paradigmatic example of a democratic institution that may be justified strictly on instrumental and epistemic grounds: its ability to yield just outcomes. Yet why should we have confidence in its ability? The jury's reliability derives from the jurors' status as local experts (hierarchical equality), as well as near-universal eligibility and selection by lot (horizontal equality): This dual egalitarianism is a condition of the jury's epistemic value. Yet ordinary citizens thereby acquire an interest in epistemic respect or recognition of their presumptively equal competence to judge. The instrumental value of the jury and intrinsic (respect-based) value of jury service may thus be reconciled; although trade-offs between just verdicts and respectful treatment are possible, the jury's ability to attain just verdicts may be improved by reforms generated by concerns about respectful treatment of jurors. This framework sheds light on the justification of democratic institutions more generally.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)446-458
    Number of pages13
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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